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Small Talk: Giving kids the runaround

We don’t need to worry about power plants or even those big windmills. We have a bottomless source of energy under our noses.

It’s children under 10. We just have to figure out how to harness it. I know putting them on treadmills would work, but their parents might get cranky.

One of our current geniuses needs to design a fun playground where every step and scream feeds a generator. We could certainly lower the school district’s energy bill, if not the nation’s. If Jeff Bezos can fly up and send the rocket back … come on.

I pitched in as ringmaster of the kindergarten and first-grade lunchtime circus for a few days last week. As rugby scrums of children teetered atop the slide set, I expected disaster, but there was none … no blood, no broken bones.

There was the chocolate milk waterfall, and one kid spitting Cheerios into a spiderweb and one swiftly snuffed session of “if I catch you, you have to kiss me.” Other than that, it was just sweaty.

When did kids start needing to offer up full-throated, blood-curdling screams so often? I do believe some kids flew by me so fast, they got blurry. In their defense, they are confined to a too-small play area because of COVID guidelines, and, yes, these same children have been deprived of normal running with the pack for more than a year.

In the end, they are still cute enough to get away with a lot of hijinks, and life goes on.

A real problem is the school playground is technically a city park, and in spite of posted signs, people bring their dogs there in the evening.

This week, on the partially enclosed kindergarten playground, there were two enormous piles of dog hair, where someone had decided to groom their mutts. I hope no student was allergic to dogs.

And worse, of course, the custodians clean up dog poop every day on the asphalt area and in the kinder grass. It’s got to be breaking some health regulations.

But for some reason, the Carlsbad Parks & Recreation department, which answers to the City Council, refuses to let the school close off the kinder playground. How can the vision of little ones playing in dog-poop-contaminated areas not be reason enough to put up just one more small, gated fence?

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer still puzzling over the world around her. Contact her at [email protected].

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